The Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Finland is set for further delays with developers blaming the difficulties encountered at the beginning of the project for the most recent complications to the project.

Already beset by delays and rising costs, system tests of a new reactor at the site are likely to add to the timescale and expense issues.

Automation testing at the Olkiluoto 3 reactor, being built by French nuclear group Areva and German engineering and electronics group Siemens, was scheduled to commence this autumn.

Olkiluoto
However, according to Petteri Tiippana, director general of Finland’s radiation and nuclear safety authority STUK, Areva still has plenty of work to do before it can begin “automation” tests of systems that will operate and monitor the plant.

“There is plenty of work to be done,” Tiippana said, explaining the project’s biggest problem was that “engineering of the plant systems and structures took more time than expected in the beginning.”

He further explained that out of three steps involved in planning and testing the reactor’s automation systems, Areva was still at the initial stage of designing the architecture.

Spokeswoman for Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), the Finnish utility company operating the plant, confirmed there were problems. “Automation is the critical issue that is delaying all the other things,” she said. “There are shortcomings and open issues with the detailed planning. It is Areva’s job to finish these things so the automation can be taken forward.”

Areva and TVO have been playing the blame game as to who is responsible for the delays, and the International Chamber of Commerce’s arbitration court is processing a dispute on the cost overruns between the consortium and TVO.

In February TVO said commercial power production was likely to start in 2016, around seven years behind an original schedule, due to delays in planning the automation systems. The reactor itself also has to be tested before the plant can start producing power.

The construction of Olkiluoto 3 started in 2005.

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